Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


Psychological Sciences

Additional Departmental Affiliation


Document Type



The concepts of masculinity and femininity fall into the category of gender, thus making the character qualities we associate with these traits psychological perceptions, rather than biological qualities (Gentile, 1993). Gender roles are not the way one acts, but the way one is expected to act based on their sex (Deaux, 1985). There is a lack of research on how these expectations can create complications in various aspects of our lives, such as feeling respected in our familial or platonic relationships, education, and career. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between gender expression and respect. It was hypothesized that participants would be more likely to associate a negative connotation with stereotypically feminine characteristics or traits compared to masculine traits. Additionally, it was hypothesized that higher levels of conformity to feminine gender norms would be associated with lower levels of perceived respect. Participants were 544 college students recruited from Western Kentucky University through an online study board platform. Mean age was 19 (M= 3.22) and the majority identified as female (76%). Participants completed the following measures: two modified versions of the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI), a Feelings of Respect Inventory (FRI), the Conformity to Feminine Norms Inventory (CFNI), and the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory (CMNI). Results confirmed the hypothesis that feminine traits were more likely to be associated with a negative connotation compared to masculine traits. It was also revealed that the conformity to masculine or feminine norms were not associated with feelings of perceived respect, which did not support the hypothesis that higher levels of conformity to feminine gender norms would be associated with lower levels of respect received from peers. Future research should examine the changes in stereotypical gender roles in recent years. Additionally, a larger sample of males and other gender groups would reveal more patterns.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Amy Brausch, Ph.D.


Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Available for download on Friday, May 15, 2026